The Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team has been working overtime to repair both the primary and back-up cars entered for this year's Indianapolis 500 in Robert Doornbos' name.

The Dutchman, making his debut on the Brickyard oval this week, crashed the primary car on Friday and then repeated the error with the back-up car Saturday, leaving him unable to qualify on either of the first two days of Indianapolis' drawn-out format.

"I have no idea what happened," Doornbos admitted after being caught out for the second time, "I'm so disappointed. The guys did an amazing job getting the car ready, and we had a good first outing - everything felt good. Then we were just starting a run and the rear went on me.

"Yesterday, we got into a nice rhythm again in practice and found ourselves in the top six, so we just tried to simulate a qualifying run, although that was a bit tricky with the other cars on track and it caught me out. I learned the very expensive lesson that you really need to be on your own to do a good comparison of qualifying and I was probably too close to the car in front, understeered, touched the wall and that was it - that was [the end of] our day.

"We worked hard overnight and got the spare car out this morning, although I slept a little bit bad wondering if it would be a good car. However, after the first run - when we were straight away competitive - I thought 'okay, this is going to be a good day', but we just couldn't pace ourselves. We wanted too much, too soon and that was it."

With two cars requiring attention, Doornbos was relegated to the role of spectator for the first weekend of qualifying, with his own return to the track not expected until Thursday [14 May].

"It was a big shock for me to realise that I'm not going to be able to qualify in the top eleven on my Indy debut," the rookie admitted, "However, a lot of people cheered me up by saying that it's such a long race and a lot can happen. I know we have the pace, I know we have the speed, the team is doing a good job and we will get back out there next week."

Neither of Doornbos' cars was at the track as qualifying took place, but chief mechanic Mitch Davis was confident that the Dutchman would have a competitive machine for the second weekend.

"We sent one car back to Chicago for our guys to work on, and the car we crashed yesterday is out in Brownsburg at a [carbon] shop getting some work done," Davis revealed, "We'll have it back Tuesday morning, and ought to be out there running on Thursday and qualifying on Saturday. On one car, we crashed the left side and, on the other, we crashed the right, so it was a blessing in the end. We only lost one car full of parts. Both tubs got damaged a little bit, but nothing major.

"Our goal is still to win the race, not to just go out there and qualify, so we've got to spend a little more time getting a car back to 100 per cent instead of just piecing it together. Basically, we're going to put all of our effort into building one car that can win the race."

Doornbos' team-mate Graham Rahal only narrowly avoided adding to the team's bill and workload, although it would not necessarily have been through any fault of his own.

"We were just hoping for a smooth day of practice, and it was going good, but, with John [Andretti]'s incident there at the end, we decided to call it a day," he revealed, "I just had to react as quickly as I could. When I was told the yellow came out, I was going to go high - then I saw the debris. Stuff was flying everywhere - the car basically exploded when he hit. I tried to go to the high side and, right when I went to the high side, he started to roll backwards into my path. I was going to T-bone him basically, so I turned hard left and hit the brakes as hard as I could and it locked up the rears as I did and that's why I spun.

"More than anything, I was just lucky that I could keep it off both the inside and outside walls. Keeping it off the inside wall was just luck because I took my hands off the wheel. I got out of the throttle coming out of turn one but, of course, you can't hit the brakes too hard, so I lifted as much as I could and tried to look ahead and see how to react. When he hit, debris was flying everywhere. There were wings flying and all sorts of things - I think I was hit by one of the tire ramps - and I was just lucky that I could move to the inside enough to where I didn't collect him.

"It was only a half of a second after it happened before I got to the scene, so we're just lucky it wasn't uglier than it is. We saved all the big stuff, and the only reason we couldn't drive it back is because the right side tyres were flat - but I'll happily take that."